Birds constitute an animal group highly valued by the public. Their essentially posi-tive image makes it easy to appeal to emotions and sentiments when encouraging their protection. So action plans can be implemented in several areas to reduce the threats they face.
The ecosystem approach is a management system where land, water and living re-sources are integrated for the benefit of conservation and long-term sustainable use of natural resources. It is a complex undertaking, but the results help to conserve biodiversity, including birds and human beings. Among Belgian projects associated with this approach, we can mention the LIFE projects, co-financed by the European Commission, for restoring ecological infrastructure with particular emphasis on im-proving biotope conservation and species habitats as covered by Natura 2000.
Hence the Wooded Grasslands LIFE project that ended last year was an ambitious programme to restore wooded grasslands in the Fagne-Famenne region. These are grasslands bordered by hedges, ditches and embankments, where ponds and or-chards are welcome features. In seven years, from 2012 to 2019, this project set up a 150-hectare network of ecologically high-quality grasslands. It developed the bo-cage associated with this network, paying particular attention to the following six species: the lesser horseshoe bat, greater horseshoe bat, Geoffroy’s bat, northern crested newt, red-backed shrike and southern damselfly, and ensured its long-term maintenance.
The specific approach is the most common approach worldwide. Requiring less ef-fort to implement, it consists in producing an action plan aimed at conserving a spe-cific species. There are countless initiatives of this type, from safeguarding the ka-kapo in New Zealand to the Californian condor in the United States, as well as the initiative to protect the black grouse in the Belgian Hautes-Fagnes.
For their part, every member of the public can also take action and behave in a way that will benefit birds in their area. So, if you have a little patch of greenery, one of the best things you can do is to stop using pesticides for managing this space. It’s true that it might look less ‘cared for’ on an ongoing basis but you will soon see bio-diversity starting to flourish there. Next, by way of some ideas, actions such as dig-ging a natural pond, sowing a native flower meadow or planting a hedgerow imbued with the national essence, eradicating invasive species or even leaving a little bit of your land to grow wild without cutting or mowing it, are a few small actions that will greatly benefit wildlife in general and birdlife in particular.